Motivational Teams: Students Helping Students

Do you have a group of students who you have tried practically everything under the sun to inspire, motivate, and get a handle on the discipline?  I have experienced this over the years too.  I really don't think it has anything to do with the students.  I believe there are years where things work and some years when it just doesn't.

This year, I have implemented something just about every month.  Not everything will work, and I've come to terms with that.   However, I want to share a teambuilding idea with you.  I'm starting to see some progress.  Let me preface this by saying this team approach is inspired by my district's athletic director.  I can't even begin to take credit for this fascinating idea.  

Before we begin, take a quick minute and watch this video that I've wanted to share with you for a few weeks.  If you follow me on social media, I shared a quote that has stuck with me for several weeks.

What if a student's behavior turned out to be their greatest gift in life?  - Principal Principles

 Just what if... What if the behaviors we try and change are the same behaviors we admire and encourage in adults.

Take a look at the video and be inspired.

A single moment in time can change a person's life.

The video and both quotes have both sparked my determination to look at discipline in a different way.  Here are a few of my beliefs so you also know my stance on discipline.

1.  I believe in supporting teachers by handling discipline.
2.  I believe in being proactive and setting procedures in place to prevent negative behaviors.
3.  I believe in positive behavior supports to encourage leadership in students, as well as, helping students to be more self-disciplined.


I have a very competitive group of students this year.  Therefore, I can see success on the horizon.  I am implementing this plan with the 5th graders on the campus.  As we all know, fifth and six grade can be a bit taxing for students, parents, and staff.  They are upper-classmen in elementary and entering junior high/middle school.


We divided the grade level into teams.  We ended up with 9 teams.  Each team has about 7 to 8 students.  How you divide it up would depend on your class numbers.  Teammates are from mixed classes since we are departmentalized in 5th.  I did this purposefully to instill a sense of family and an opportunity to build relationships outside their homeroom class.  

Each group named their team and picked a team captain. The team captain can change each week or month to allow each member to showcase their leadership.  The teams wear a color bracelet to identify their team easily, quickly, and again to build a bond.  

The wristbands were purchased from
I ordered 90 wristbands for around $60.  The order arrived within 2-3 days.  

Each team begins with 500 points.  Students receive points throughout the day, week, and month.  They can also lose points as well.  For example, students can earn a point for completing homework, receiving a positive compliment from someone on campus, etc... They can lose points by not completing assignments in class or homework, receiving an office referral, etc... The students were given a list of ways to earn or ways points will be taken away.  Students need to know the expectations.  Each group will have a team meeting every Monday to check their point status and discuss ways to improve.  We can easily track their points using a google spreadsheet.  

Each team member could earn multiple points each day or lose them as well.  The google spreadsheet will update as the points are entered or subtracted.  We decided to go with this kind of system since we all have Macbooks (even our students).  We can easily access the shared file and update the points.  This process has started to work well with cafeteria behavior too.  

Note: The color at the top represents each team and their bracelet color too.  


We will reward highest scoring team each month with pizza and time in the campus game room.  If you have the need to implement a weekly reward system, I would say go for it.  I'm going month-by-month for our system.

This year we created a Hawk's Nest.  Our mascot is a hawk.  The game room has a pingpong table, foosball table, electronic gaming system with projector, and many more items.  It is one of the most exciting places on campus.  All the items were donated by the community.  


Since we were just getting a taste of this before Christmas break, I don't have any data to show that this will work for you or even for me for the remainder of the year.  However, I do know that we are all determined to do whatever it takes to help our students be successful.  I do have one success story to share with you though.  A student was behind in turning in his assignments.  He had 4 incomplete or missing assignments.  His team met and helped him locate these assignments and got him caught up.  They discussed ways to stay organized plus they all encouraged him to have all assignments completed on time.  The group ended up giving up their free time and went to study hall to help one another (By the way, this was their choice).  To me...that is a great moment.  Anytime I see student leadership and success I know we are on to something great.  


The video and the two quotes are perfect for the vision and culture of my school.  Always remember a single moment in time can change a person's life.  I hope to live a life of significance, not just a life of success.  I hope to create a school where we see the best in our students.  A school where we believe in our students.

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